Sex traffickers use social media to research victims to groom

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano. Photo by Earnie Grafton.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano. Photo by Earnie Grafton.

Images of prostituted women walking the streets and picking up buyers are pervasive in popular culture. But the reality is that commercial sex is just a click away.

These days, johns set up “dates” from the privacy and comfort of their homes. So do the pimps and predators who lure vulnerable youths into the sex trade.

These predators can fix on a potential victim, then do their research online, mining social media accounts for information that can help them exploit victims, said Jeffrey Veltri, an FBI agent and lawyer who works to recover and rescue victims of human trafficking.

Veltri and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano, who is the Project Safe Childhood coordinator for the Southern District of California, spoke about their experiences working with trafficked children at an ABA Midyear Meeting program, “The Gateway to Vulnerability: Youth Internet Use and Human Trafficking.” The program, sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division, explored where the victims come from (everywhere) and who the perpetrators can be (anyone).

To read more: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/sex_traffickers_use_social_media_to_research_victims_to_groom